Am I on track?

Am I on track?

Monday, 19 November 2012

Trying something new...

As I get closer and closer to 40 years old - new experiences tend to come along a little less often.  But a week or so ago, I had one of those "OMG, this is AWESOME!" experiences that make you feel like a 5 year old discovering something for the very first time...

My youngest daughter, now 11 years old, has just about grown out of her bike (a supermarket cheapie).  I want to get her something much more decent now, especially as she is getting very enthusiastic about cycling and is keen to get out every weekend onto the local paths.

Serendipitously, I got an email from Planet Cycles that they were holding their Test the Best weekend at Daisy Hill State Forest.  Basically, they had all their road and mountain bike (mtb) high-end bling out there, ready to be test-ridden by anyone and everyone.  I decided it would be a great opportunity to take the family to check out a few mountain bikes.

When we arrived on the Sunday (the 2nd day of the demo), there was a short queue.  This gave me time to cast my eye over the incredible smorgasboard of road bikes they had.  My heart yearned to take an S-Works Tarmac or Venge for a spin, and I had to forcefully and deliberately remind myself that I was not there for a roadie.  It did hurt though...

When we reached the front of the registration queue, we handed over all our details and ID's, and talked about mountain bike options to try.  I couldn't believe our luck when we were kitted out on super-top-end full-carbon Specialized S-Works Epics (29'ers), running Shimano XTR running gear...!!  They were beautiful bikes, and I couldn't wait to try them out.

The mechanics made sure we were well fitted and set-up comfortably.  They asked if we'd ridden mtb trails before, and I said no...  They let me know to ride the wide fire trails for a while, and if we felt comfortable and confident, we could try some singletrack as well (a particular singletrack trail had been 'reserved' for the demo).

We headed off down the fire trail tentatively.  I had never used disc brakes before, and it took a little while to get used to them.  It was fun riding, and the bike was ridiculously comfortable.  My oldest daughter and I had a few battles trying to outclimb each other, and there were smiles alround.

We reached the start of the marked singletrack (which I know now is called "Turning Japanese").  My eldest and I decided to give it a try, while the others headed back on the fire trail.  I remembered the final words of advice from the mechanic ("Trust the bike, it'll get you through almost anything..."), and we headed off down the unknown...

Wow - just wow!! 

The singletrack was just incredible fun!!  I literally shrieked a few times as I rode through some rocky spots and rolled over a few small drop-offs.  I was concentrating like crazy to stay on the impossibly thin trail and snake through what felt like tiny gaps between trees, but I had a massive grin on my face and laughed out loud at the sheer joy I was feeling.

My oldest daughter caught up with me when I briefly dismounted to climb down one deep (to me!) drop-off.  "This is so hard - but its so fun!" she said smiling.

We managed to squeeze in a second run along the singletrack before heading back along the fire trail to the demo tent and reluctantly handing our bikes back over...

It has been a long time since I've had that much fun on a bike!!  I have already started checking out the local bike shops for new mountain bikes for the family - it'll be the perfect family riding activity for weekends.

My only regret is not giving mountain biking a try years ago...  :)   I'll always be a roadie first, but there is always room for something new too...

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